Early voting numbers in Florida and other major battleground states are in, and the figures show a disproportionately high turnout among independent voters. Ignored by the pundits, analysts, and their election models, these voters could end up delivering an Election Day surprise Tuesday.
Heavy reports that 6.4 million voters in Florida participated in early voting, which began on October 24 and ended on November 6. According to the report, this is approximately half (49.7%) of the registered voting population.
Combined, registered Democrats and Republicans made up 78.34 percent of early voters, which means that 21.66 percent were independent of the two major parties. That is one in five voters, an unprecedentedly high number in presidential elections.
CNN reports that in North Carolina, another crucial battleground state for both major party candidates, independent voters also came out in big numbers, casting nearly 810,000 votes. That is a 42% increase from 2012, while Democratic turnout actually dropped from 47.5% of overall votes cast to 41.7%.
The increase in independent voter participation could completely upend current election models, meaning the outcome is not as certain as analysts and statisticians like FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver — who on ABC’s Good Morning America Monday said Clinton had 2-to-1 odds of winning the election — predict.
So how are these independent voters casting their ballots?
Well, it may not be good news for Hillary Clinton. CNN reports that she is underperforming in North Carolina, a state Democrats have focused heavily on since a win there would make it incredibly difficult for Trump to get to 270 electoral votes.
Drudge Report, a right-leaning news aggregation website, also reports that Trump is outperforming 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by 130,000 votes in Florida, a state Republicans lost by 74,000 in 2012.
Even Nate Silver suggests that Clinton’s 5% lead in national polls could be misleading because there are many unaccounted Trump supporters. Silver said there are likely several “shy [Donald] Trump voters” who did not want to admit their true candidate preference to pollsters.
Many independent voters, however, are not represented in national polls at all. IVN previously reported that some polls severely under-sample independent voters, and if a segment of the electorate is considered to be low propensity then the polls will not sample the demographic at all.
These voters could include many older, working class, white voters — including adult white males with no college degree — who overwhelmingly support Trump. Much of the media’s focus has been on how well the candidates are doing with minority groups, while ignoring a segment of the voting-eligible population that is much larger than people realize because they are low-propensity voters.
This doesn’t necessarily mean Trump will pull out an upset. Hillary is still largely considered the odds-on favorite to win the election. However, the disproportionate number of independent voters who cast early ballots in key battleground states means the election models touted by the mass media are missing hundreds of thousands of voters.
Trump could win this election and none of the so-called experts would have seen it coming.